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Former NRA finance chief agrees to 10-year ban from nonprofit management

Wilson Phillips, the former finance chief of the National Rifle Association, has been banned from managing funds for any nonprofit organization in New York. Phillips is banned from serving as a fiduciary of a nonprofit organization in New York for 10 years and must undergo training before returning to any such position, according to the […]

Wilson Phillips, the former finance chief of the National Rifle Association, has been banned from managing funds for any nonprofit organization in New York.

Phillips is banned from serving as a fiduciary of a nonprofit organization in New York for 10 years and must undergo training before returning to any such position, according to the deal.

He agreed to this 10-year ban three months after a jury found him responsible for a scheme involving the NRA funding the lifestyle of its CEO, Wayne LaPierre.


However, Phillips remains liable for $2 million in damages to the NRA for his involvement in concealing and facilitating LaPierre’s spendings.

He was accused of approving invoices for LaPierre’s private jet flights, facilitating payments to contractors linked to LaPierre’s friends, and enabling the NRA to reimburse expenses covered by its advertising agency for LaPierre and his wife.

Now retired, this settlement means that Phillips will not have to participate in next week’s second phase of New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil lawsuit against the NRA and former top executives.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, arrives at a courtroom in New York, Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The longtime head of the National Rifle Association is resigning, just before the start of a New York civil trial that’s poised to scrutinize his leadership of the powerful gun rights organization. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Beginning July 15, Manhattan Judge Joel Cohen will address remaining issues in the case, including whether LaPierre and former general counsel John Frazer should be barred from charitable organizations in the state.

“For decades, Wilson Phillips oversaw and allowed financial mismanagement and corruption at the NRA, and that is why the jury found him, the NRA, and his co-defendants, senior executives Wayne LaPierre and John Frazer, liable for their misconduct,” James said in a statement

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“Today’s agreement should serve as an example that my office will hold anyone, and everyone, involved in abusing their power or misappropriating funds accountable,” she added.

In February, a Manhattan state court jury concluded the trial’s first phase, finding LaPierre misused millions of NRA funds and ordering him to repay nearly $4.4 million to the organization.

The jury also found Frazer violated his duties, yet it did not find him liable for any monetary restitution or cause for removal from the organization.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, leaves New York State Supreme Court, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Additionally, the jury determined the NRA neglected proper asset management, misrepresented information in tax filings, and violated whistleblower protections under New York law.

Before the trial began in January, Joshua Powell, LaPierre’s former chief of staff, settled with James’s office by agreeing to testify, pay the NRA $100,000, and refrain from further involvement in nonprofit organizations.

After LaPierre’s resignation, Doug Hamlin, the executive director of the NRA’s publications wing, was elected as his replacement in May. 

Simultaneously, Frazer was removed as general counsel, but he retains his position as the NRA’s corporate secretary. Phillips retired in 2018.

In 2020, James sued the NRA and its executives under her authority to oversee nonprofit organizations in the state, initially aiming to dissolve the organization, but Cohen ruled in 2022 that the allegations did not warrant a “corporate death penalty.”

In the trial’s second phase, James is pushing for an independent monitor to supervise how the NRA manages its charitable assets.

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She is looking to ban LaPierre from leadership positions in New York charities and to prevent the NRA and Frazer from handling funds for any charitable organization in the state.

“New Yorkers deserve to know that when they support a not-for-profit, those donations are being used to advance its mission, not squandered on lavish perks for staff or cronies,” James said.

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